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Confirmed: Novell Puts Mono (and Moonlight) at Centre of the GNU/Linux Desktop

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Search at 4:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We could refresh the look and feel of the entire desktop with Moonlight”

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Another new roundup of Mono news

YESTERDAY we wrote about Moonlight and Mono-based applications getting more tightly integrated. We now see it confirmed by Novell employees Miguel de Icaza and Jonathan Pobst [1 2], so our suspicions were correct from the very start. This is all part of Microsoft’s ambition to fill the Web with Silver Lie content and the desktop with .NET/WPF, which in turn imposes a patent tax on GNU/Linux and makes a poorer experience for GNU/Linux users. From ITPro news:

The first version of Silverlight was launched in April 2007, while version 2 arrived in 2008. It runs on Windows and Mac – and even Linux. The latter is developed by Novell in conjunction with Microsoft, a project known as Moonlight.

“[I]n conjunction with Microsoft,” says this article, but the Microsoft/Novell Web site calls it “Microsoft Moonlight”. It serves Microsoft’s interests.

Microsoft’s Anti-Java

In the blog post where Mini Microsoft suggests laying off 15k employees we also find this comment which reminds us why it’s good that Bing is dying. Microsoft uses Bing to smear .NET’s (and Mono’s) main competitor, Java. From the commenter:

Regarding Bing, I believe there are untrustworthy behaviours under the hood, specifically black list result filters. Try this searching for “transferhandler.export to clipboard swing”. Google finds about 100 results all related to Java. Bing finds exactly two results. One is my comment on this subject elsewhere and the other is in French. How can it be possible without deletion of “things Java” ?

This is not surprising because Microsoft applies the same type of treatment to all major competitors of Microsoft, GNU/Linux included. See our previous posts on the subject, e.g.:

Attacks on Stallman

For the past fortnight or so (shortly after Stallman’s official statement on Mono and C#), Stallman has come under attack from many directions, usually from defenders of Mono or users of Mono (including Canonical employees). He is still not impressed by Microsoft’s “Community Promise” (CP) [1, 2, 3] and this makes him no friends. Stefano Forenza wrote about these attacks on Stallman only to be called “misguided” by Caonical’s CTO.

The first meme being directed to Richard Stallman for citing ‘eMacs virgins’ in a speech and the other one only gods knows whom.

While the latter is just is yet another generalist campaign (like the infamous “hey, even double click is patented!”) the first is a frontal attack to Richard Stallman as a person: knives coming out all of a sudden.

Even the Canonical CTO blogged about it.

While the video isn’t available yet, I have big doubts there is something even remotely offensive in such Stallman talk. It’s very easy to take feminism as an excuse, as many people (not just girls) will jump in no-matter-what without even knowing what it’s being talked about.

The new method in place seems to be that if you support Stallman and support his stance on Mono, then you’re also a chauvinist. It’s not said explicitly, but it is being implied that to be associated with Stallman is also to accept his sometimes-tactless humour/modest proposals.

Sam Varghese correctly points out that Mono’s most vocal defender inside Debian is himself quite chauvinistic. That person is Josselin Mouette.

Mouette, it may be recalled, is the developer who had posted what were considered sexist posts to the Debian project mailing list meant for important announcements for developers.

(Mono is an open source implementation of parts of Microsoft’s .NET development environment; many sections of the FOSS community fear that Mono may prove to be a patent trap down the line as .NET is totally Microsoft technology. Recent statements have done little to dispel this impression.)

I asked the Debian leader Steve McIntyre a few queries about the Mono change and he, as always, sent back straightforward replies. McIntyre, I may add, has always been open and upfront in dealing with iTWire.

But after Free Software Foundation chief Richard Stallman called the Debian move risky – he based the statement on the inference that a decision on including Mono in the Debian default install had already been taken – Debian spokesman Alexander Reichle-Schmehl decided that the project had to speak up and did so by trying to explain things through a post on his blog.

For those who have not been following the whole Mono kerkuffle (a lot has happened recently), here is an excellent summary, which concludes thusly:

Well there are issues around Mono, including patents. This means that some people, myself included now refuse to use it. Those that are pro-mono don’t seem to understand exactly why everyone isn’t shouting hosannas over their projects. Indeed one of them classified Tomboy as ‘An Exciting Program’, which stunned me. Tomboy? Exciting? I didn’t think so.

It is “exciting” for Microsoft, that’s for sure. Its APIs spread to the competitors’ platforms, which makes Microsoft more powerful. It does not bother Novell.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

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  1. Matt Zimmerman said,

    July 16, 2009 at 6:44 am


    You’re conflating two distinct issues here: there are some people who disagree with Richard’s position on Mono, and some who object to his making a sexist joke during his presentation. The two are not related, but for some reason, some people (such as yourself and Stefano) seem to be getting them confused.

    Everyone has a right to their view on whether Mono is a good technology. There are differing opinions over whether it is a good idea to adopt it in light of the questions around its intellectual property. However, sexism is an issue entirely distinct from either of these, and is only related to Mono incidentally through the coincidence of RMS’ speech at GCDS.

    BroWren Reply:

    I don’t think Roy’s the one doing the tying together there. He’s simply pointing out the fact that this is the new line of attack for the pro-mono camp.

    It’s a pretty typical political-style attempt to discredit RMS, is what he’s saying.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, they ride the wave, so to speak, opportunistically.

    Matt Zimmerman Reply:

    As one of the people named in this blog post, I have already stated that RMS’ position on Mono doesn’t matter to me at all.

    Various other people have commented on RMS’ behavior who have no particular concern with his position on Mono, including (unsurprisingly) women.


    For my part, I am less interested in RMS’ behavior in this specific instance (which is sadly typical in the community) than in the pattern of backlash against the criticism, including attempts to discredit it as being Mono-related.

    Mono is a trivial concern, compared to the way that women are treated in our community, and yet Mono is seen to be so important that it must be the “real agenda” rather than sexism. This seems telling indeed.

    woods Reply:

    Just as a note for people too tired to click links, the above link by Mr. Garrett (mjg95) is good because it contains a transcript and youtube-link of a previous iteration of RMS’s presentation.

    Chani’s comment actually highlights what I’ve been wondering; Don’t people know of catholicism anymore? (or Google for that matter: 390 000 links to ‘cult of virgin mary’)

    Personally, my immediate reaction was to see RMS parodying christianity but if people say I’m too dense to see the sexism beneath, fine.

  2. eet said,

    July 16, 2009 at 7:02 am


    >Microsoft’s ambition to fill the Web with Silver Lie content and the desktop >with .NET/WPF, which in turn imposes a patent tax on GNU/Linux

    >Bing is dying

    What planet do you live on ATM? You been smoking something weird?

  3. André said,

    July 16, 2009 at 10:07 am


    Bing is not dying.

    Even his closest allies and supporters criticise RMS very openly.

    But: The sexism argument and flame war sounded to me like a moronic joke of Schlesinger. I can’t believe he was honest about that. And if he was, then he has to understand that by all European standards of interpretation the problem is him, and his perception.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 16, 2009 at 10:38 am


    Bing is not dying.

    Data, please.

  5. woods said,

    July 17, 2009 at 1:35 am


    I wonder if this this whole debacle will prove to be a watershed that makes or breaks the FLOSS-community.

    Either we’ll have a future with a community divided (Free against Mono (almost like back to the ‘good’ old bad times Free/Open-division…) or a community that has gotten its act together, stands on its own two feet and rejects all attempts to spread discord.

    Ajay Reply:

    why is this a test for any community? Some distro’s may include Mono by default, and conscious users will either uninstall it or move away from the distro.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Some distro’s may include Mono by default, and conscious users will either uninstall it or move away from the distro.

    To an extent, that’s already happening.

    woods Reply:


    But *suppose* for example that all the major (GNOME-using) distributions embrace Mono (kudos to Fedora which seems to be shying away from Mono making this scenario entirely hypothetical), replacing common apps with Mono-based ones (as its use spreads), maybe even tying Mono to OpenOffice.

    Where will you move away? What will you use if removing Mono in the worst case removed your whole desktop?

    So far the answer of course would be a KDE-using major distro with KOffice or Google Docs (of course there are plenty of good minor non-derivative distros but while those may be fine for personal use they may be a tougher sell for corporations/governments)

    So there’s little danger, per se.

    My (mostly rhetorical) question was, what kind of a community will we be left with?

    One with mostly private freedom-loving users using minor free distros with major ones using Mono, paying (hypothetically!) license-money to MS and the same going for businesses trying to earn a profit while using Linux (assuming development is done w/ Mono)

    Or one where only Novell is trying to pedle an increasingly Mono-based distro, whereas all the others (major and minor) have moved away from Mono (and Portable .NET just to be on the safe side)

    Most probably this current ‘tug of war’ will continue until MS either gives an all-out, all-covering, written, legal, etc. promise not sue…or just starts suing.

    Mostly I was just wondering aloud, remembering the OSS/FSS-split in the late 90′s, early 00′s (which *seems* to be doing better these days)

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